Site Name Ord River-East Kimberley
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group Kitja, Jaru, Mirrawong
Colony WA
Present State/Territory WA
Police District East Kimberley
Latitude -15.494
Longitude 128.354
Date Between 1 Oct 1893 and 24 Nov 1893
Attack Time
Victims Aboriginal People
Victims Killed 30
Victims Killed Notes 30
Attackers Colonisers
Attackers Killed 0
Attackers Killed Notes
Weapons Used Winchesters, Revolvers
Narrative After PC Collins’ death a large-scale punitive expedition was sent out to catch Collins’ killers. It comprised Sergeant Brophy, PCs Rhatigan, McCarthy and Lucanus, and native assistants Rocket, Willie, Mickey and Dickey. Over nearly two months from 1 October to 24 November 1893 they traveled 1091 kilometres and, as their reports indicate, shot thirty Aboriginal people. This patrol consisted of incidents such as this: On 14 October 1893 Sgt Brophy who was in charge of a police patrol reported killing four men and catching ‘a few old men and women who could not run away’ and instructed his native assistant to tell them that if they kept killing cattle or breaking insulators on the telegraph line ‘all the natives would either be shot or put in gaol’. The following day the police patrol came across another group along the Ord River and because he ‘could plainly see that the natives intend to fight it out’, six more who he wrote were ‘notorious cattle killers’ were killed. On 19 October four more were killed. On 23 October 1893 the patrol discovered a group camped who he described as ‘the most treacherous in the district’. Each officer took thirty rounds of ammunition and they waited until daybreak to raid the camp. In the dawn raid the ‘women and children ran away’ but all the men took to the rock hideaway with spears. Brophy wrote, ‘It was not until 10 were shot dead that they made any attempt to run away. In all my experience with natives I have never known them to make such plucky and determined fight as those blacks.’ From the aforementioned summary from July 1893 (when Trooper Collins was killed) to 24 November 1893 police recorded shooting and killing at least eighty-one Aboriginal people, but the unrecorded number, again, was likely much higher. [Summary from Owen 2016: 347-349.]
Sources CSO, Journal of a trip by Sergt Brophy and party in pursuit of natives who are killing cattle on the Ord, Osmand and other rivers 1 October 1893–24 November 1893,’ SROWA, AN 24, Cons.527, File 90/1894. Owen and Choo, 2003; 135-145; Owen, 2016: 348-350. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating ***